The soul does not have to walk past bloated horses, screaming men, or dead children to understand the cruel nature of human conflict. The little girl that has hidden under her unicorn blanket while her parents send hateful words screaming across the living room knows the importance of peace. War whether in the macrocosm or the microcosm is horrid thing.
But despite the commitments of the United Nations to help people, “practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors,” the world remains ravaged by wars. The followers of Christ should not be surprised by the inadequacies of governments and agencies for humanity has a natural disposition for war. As soon as the news of a bad report card or of a broken antique vase hits our hearts, the booming cannon of anger forcefully sounds again. Despite humanity’s attempt to establish peace through calls for moderation, the promises of hugs, and the gains of technology, harmony remains elusive.
Jesus Calls for Peacemakers
Still, we want peace. The human heart readily identifies with Jesus’s proclamation, “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God (Matt. 5:9).” To find this peace, souls must first discover how one becomes a son or daughter of God. In other words to promote peace, men and women must first experience the peace God. Jesus serves as the foundation of all earthly peace.
How Does Jesus Display Peace?
As the prophet Isaiah noted, Jesus is the “Prince of Peace (Is 9:6).” When baby Jesus arrived in the manager, he brought peace to those with whom God is well pleased (Lk 2:14). This was unusually fantastic news!
At birth, no one is blessing to God. Since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit at the dawning of the human age, humanity has suffered from the effects of sin. Having declared war against God, men and women unceasingly choose evil because their natures possess an eternal bent towards selfishness and violence. This lack of righteousness in the human society ensures that war will continue to flourish both in our homes and on the international stage. No one could please God. No one could lay claim to the peace of heaven.
At this juncture, the glory of Christ becomes even more glorious. He exercises the roles of prophet, priest, and king so that God can find us pleasing. Jesus comes as an infant to pursue the salvation of the lost. The Gospel of Mark reports that Jesus came preaching, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” As the perfect prophet of God, Jesus condemned sin and then called sinners to repentance. Thankfully, his call to holiness transcended the scope of the legalist, white-collared grandmother who is always wagging her finger. Acting as the final high priest, Jesus offered his life as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He made repentance possible, dying so that no one else has to sacrifice for their sins. Christ accomplished it all, trading his life for us. Thus at the moment of repentance, the sinner takes possession of Christ’s righteousness. When God sees the redeemed, he sees his son with whom he is well pleased. In Romans 5:1 Paul sums up God’s plan for peace, writing, “Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then as king, Jesus reigns. He continual works for the good of his children interceding for them, directing them back towards grace when they stumble into selfishness and war. Through his pursuit, salvation, and care of sinners, Jesus brings peace to earth.
Who is a peacemaker?
A peacemaker is someone promotes peace because he has experienced the peace of Christ through repentance and faith. As a new creation, Christians possess the tools needed to foster peace: confession, truth, forgiveness, and forbearance. In other words, those who experienced peace with God will in-turn become the purveyors of peace on earth.
Sin is the soil that sustains war and violence. If unconfessed sin exists in the believer’s life, she will be unable to help her neighbor. In other words, those who hope to bring others to peace while sharing intelligence and military equipment with the terrorists of pride, selfishness, and lust will harm both themselves and those they wish to help. Jesus noted, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Before the believer can help someone else, she must repent of her own sin and rest in the peace of a clear conscience. Only once the log is out of her eye can she move forward to help her husband, children, coworkers, church members, and in-laws.
After self-examination and repentance, the peacemaker should bring the word of truth to bear on the lives of others. To borrow the well-used expression, the Christian must call a spade a spade. Instead of looking the other way when she spots her friend’s husband checking into a motel with a women not her friend, she address the situation pointing to Matthew 5:27-32 and a host of other passages that condemn adultery. Similarly, Paul tells Titus to address those start fights writing , “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice have nothing more to do with him (3:10).” The peacemaker engages sin with truth for the purpose of correcting errors and erroneous behaviors. In bringing the ethic of Jesus to bear on all of life, she fosters both peace with God and peace among men.
After sharing truth, the believer should extend forgiveness. The peacemaking progress often breaks down at this juncture. The human soul craves vengeance. It desires to know that the villains who called them names, stunted their careers, and destroyed their friendships have suffered through at least one night of the silent treatment. But this is not the heart of Christ. He welcomes sinners. When the prodigal son returns to his Father, the Father runs to him throwing a feast for him. Such should be Christian forgiveness. As Jesus tells his listeners in Matthew 5:44-45 “But I say to you, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” The moment a person confesses their sin and asks for forgiveness, the believer should extend the hand of fellowship and bring the war to its God intended conclusion. The list of misdeeds are burned, the internal bitterness is tossed out, and the urge for vengeance is abandon. In their place now sit mercy and grace.
Lastly, the peacemaker forbears. He does not give up after one conversation. He does not quit and wait for those in a state of war to make the first move. He pursues his enemies and those engaged in combat. Even when they mistreat him or respond to his initial offerings for peace with a list of his past failures, he does not retreat. He keeps pursuing peace for Christ, pursing the man despite his hatred and mistreatment of The believer. The apostle John reminds us that, “In this is love not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved if God so loved us, we ought to love one another (1 Jn 4:10).” When Jesus arrived, he did not find you or me residing peaceable in a garden, musing about the origins of dreams. He found us in a state of all out rebellion, brandishing machine guns and machetes in an effort to overthrow God’s sovereign decrees. Still, Jesus loved us and pursued us to the point of death. If God cast us off because we did not respond to the first gospel plea that we heard, how many of us would reach heaven? If God can endure thousands of rejections, should we not do the same?
Often Christians fear confrontation because it threatens to create more confusion and war. If John responds to the truth of the gospel with anger know the whole church is consumed with gossip as texts go around asking church members to either side with John or the church’s elders. Though mishaps happen, this fear overlooks one important truth: God’s spirit dwells in all of his people. In Philippians 4:7, God promises that “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus.” When the believing soul calls another believing soul to peace, the peacemaker do so knowing Christ is also guarding the brother at war. In other words, the call to peace will always resonate with the believer. And if the call of peace is rejected and the one at war proves to be unredeemed, the Christian should not lose heart. He has helped a confused soul understand its spiritual state. The knowledge of sin proves to be the foundation of evangelism that allows the gospel to penetrate. The Christian does not despair but rather pursues the man at war afresh seeking to lead him to peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.